Why Sunderland look favourites for relegation after Aston Villa loss

Sunderland will have to perform miracles if they intend to remain in the Premier League.

The Black Cats fell to a 4-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday, that saw them fall precariously close to the relegation places.

For Villa it was a vital result, as it lifted them above their Wearside rivals, and suggested that new head coach Tim Sherwood has enough about him to keep the club in the top flight.

However, not only was the result bad for Sunderland - leaving them just one point ahead of Burnley in the last relegation place - but the performance that brought the result did little to suggest that a Premier League place was open for next season.

Unlike Burnley, and even Villa during their poor form, who show fight and character in loss - and occasionally win, as the Clarets did over Manchester City on Saturday - Sunderland collapse at the first sign of trouble, and that could see them in the Championship next term.

The playing squad can seemingly not cope with going one goal behind during games, and that suggests little mental strength as they attempt to fight off what looks like inevitable relegation.

As the Villa loss has shown, the Black Cats have made a habit of conceding in sequence, with Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor scoring within two minutes, and then seven minutes, of each other.

There is a mental collapse in the squad whenever faced by adversity, and that is hardly the character needed to survive in a tough relegation battle.

Although sitting ahead of Burnley at this moment in time, the Clarets have much more about them as a team, and it would come as no surprise to see Sean Dyche’s men leapfrog Sunderland - sending the Black Cats down to the second division.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch